Inside the Mind of a Writer – Conversations with Characters – Pashevel

I already wrote about using my drive time to “write.”   One of the things that I do while driving is hold conversations with my characters. 

I know that there are some writers who say that your characters aren’t real, they can’t tell you things, that they only do what you tell them, etc, and that those of us who say otherwise are delusional, or not serious about writing, or a host of other put downs.

If that mindset works for them, so be it. 

But me ?  I prefer to think of my characters as living breathing beings.  And who knows?  Maybe they are real in another dimension of the multi-verse . 

Or maybe the conversations are just my subconscious giving me information.  Whatever.  But I hold conversations with my characters while driving, and sometimes the conversations are unexpected. 

I was on my way to work one day while working on Song and Sword, and suddenly Pashevel was in the passenger’s seat.

“What are we going to do with the captured Orc?” he asked without preamble.

Captured Orc? There was no captured Orc in my outline.   “What captured Orc?”  I asked.

“We captured an Orc,” he explained easily, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“What are you going to do with a captured Orc?”

“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you.”

For a brief moment I considered strangling him – Pashevel, not the Orc – but, well, Pash is a hard character to get mad at and even harder to stay mad at, so I sighed.  “What do you want to do with the captured Orc?”

“I want to set it free.”

“Of course you want to set it free.  What do the others want to do?”

“Marlia and Dakkas want to kill it.”

“Of course, Mar and – Wait a minute?  Marlia and Dakkas are agreeing about something?”

“Yeah.  So what are we going to do with the captured Orc?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t even know there was an Orc.”

And so it went.  The captured Orc stayed in and led to a whole subplot that I hadn’t been planning or even aware of.

And for those who would put me down for letting things happen this way, I think I’m in pretty good company.

… If you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once.

But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner as the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all. Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22. I knew nothing of the Palantiri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognised it, and knew the meaning of the ‘rhyme of lore’ that had been running in my mind: “seven stars and seven stones and one white tree”. The rhymes and names will crop up; but they do not always explain themselves…

The Letters of JRRT 163 #216-7 

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